Summer reading season is upon us
A trio of recommendations, plus a bourbon barometer check
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As a library book sale enthusiast, I sometimes wonder whether books make the best gifts.
I’d wager roughly half of my book sale finds have a warm inscription on the inside cover page, noting how much the recipient’s graduation means to the giver or expressing certainty that the book’s wise words will be a balm for tough times. It’s a whole lot of sentiment for fifty cents.
But there are times when I can’t resist buying a book for someone. One of those times was last Saturday, when the two activities on my calendar were a going-away party for a friend relocating from Charleston to Chicago and a visit with Emily Meggett, author of the recently published Gullah Geechee Home Cooking: Recipes from the Matriarch of Edisto Island.
According to Meggett, bookstores are struggling to keep her cookbook on their shelves, so you may have already bought a copy. Perhaps you’ve even made her red rice or deviled crab. (Based on her description of the deboning process, though, I’d skip the elaborate preparation for stuffed shad, which takes up four pages in the book. Meggett says a fellow from Texas has offered to pay any price to eat it at her table.)
Yet it doesn’t take an oil fortune to eat at Meggett’s house. As she says in the book, if her side door’s open, something’s on the stove: She shared an in-progress squash casserole and just-baked banana bread when I went to see her.
While that’s the advantage of an in-person visit, co-author Kayla Stewart has captured the experience of spending time with Meggett so vividly that the esteemed home cook at one point read directly from the book rather than ad lib commentary on her kitchen philosophy.
In other words, Gullah Geechee Home Cooking is a book worth giving, whether for Father’s Day or Juneteenth. At the very least, I can promise a future used book browser will appreciate it.
Another title out this month that’s fit for both occasions is Nicole Taylor’s Watermelon & Red Birds: A Cookbook for Juneteenth and Black Celebrations. While I don’t yet have a copy, I know Nicole does great work—and I’d hate for you to miss a chance to up your potato salad game before summertime hits.
And finally, since Friday’s email is a sales pitch first and foremost (NB: The real material is in the newsletters reserved for paid subscribers), if you’re gift shopping for someone who doesn’t cook, consider a subscription to The Food Section’s print quarterly! An annual subscription costs $49, with the next issue set for release in July.
For food fans who aren’t comfortable reading longform journalism on a screen, the print edition is a great way to catch up on the best of what The Food Section has published. The upcoming issue includes coverage of Aunt Fanny’s Cabin, softshell crab mania in Charleston, the tradition of Waffle House suhoors, and delivery robots.
Many thanks to folks who this week took a shot at helping The Food Section reach its sustainability goal! As you may recall, when you first saw the newsletter’s bourbon barometer last Friday, it showed we had 208 paid subscriptions left to sell. Nice work!
Paying subscribers this week took a deep dive into the 1965 International Guild Guide, described as “the Green Book for gay travelers,” and the Southern restaurants featured within it. To read what you missed, upgrade now.